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3D Plant Cell Cakes
How to Make an Edible Plant Cell Model
3D cell models — especially the kind you can eat! — are a fun, easy way to learn about plant cells, cell structure and organelles. Not sure where to begin with your edible plant cell project? This guide has you covered from cell wall to chloroplasts! Here you'll find step-by-step instructions for baking a delicious, scientifically accurate plant cell cake, as well as a variety of creative plant cell cake pictures and how-to videos to help you out along the way.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies
What edible items will you use to create your plant cell cake?
To bake this plant cell cake, you will need a handful of inexpensive materials, many of which are probably already in your kitchen or pantry. These are the supplies I used to create the cake pictured here but feel free to switch up the supplies to fit your budget.
CELL WALL SUPPLIES
Square / Rectangular Cake Pan
Sugar Cookie Mix
Mike & Ikes
Candy Fruit Slices
Funfetti Cake Mix
This six-inch plastic plant cell model comes with 24 detachable parts that will give you a hands-on opportunity to learn about cell structure. Check out the model's assembly guide for information about plant cell organelles and practice quiz questions.
What about the nucleus?
To create an edible nucleus without having to buy extra candy, simply set aside a spoonful of cake batter and use it to bake a small cupcake. The cupcake will fit perfectly atop your plant cell cake!
Step 2: Bake Your Plant Cell Cake
If you're baking with Pillsbury's Funfetti cake mix like I did, you'll need to blend the cake mix with 1/3 cup of vegetable oil,one cup of water and three eggs.
Once you've mixed up your cake batter, it's time to break out the food coloring. Since the cytoplasm of many plant cells is green, I chose to dye my cake batter lime green by mixing a few drops of green and yellow food coloring into the batter BEFORE I poured it into my square cake pan.
Once your cake batter is smooth and evenly colored, pour it into your pan and place the pan in the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when stuck into the middle of your cake.
This two-part plant cell model splits in half to give students an inside look at plant cells. With one half of the model labeled with organelle names and the other with letters only, testing your knowledge of plant cells has never been easier.
Step 3: Frost Your Cake
To ensure that your plant cell cake is scientifically accurate, you'll need to dye your frosting two different colors. One color will be used to create the cytoplasm, represented by the TOP of your cake. The second color will be used to create the cell membrane, represented by the SIDES of your cake.
Don't forget! If you chose to bake a nucleus cupcake, you'll also need to prepare a small amount of frosting that is dyed a third color.
Lots of supplies can be used to frost your animal cell cake but if you want to give your project a smooth, professional look, I recommend using an actual frosting palette knife. They typically cost about $6 and are incredibly useful in the kitchen. Not interested in purchasing a frosting knife? Try using the smooth edge of a butter knife, the back of a large spoon or a small spatula.
Step 4: Bake Your Cell Wall Cookies
If you're building your cell walls with sugar cookie mix, you'll need to blend that mix in a large mixing bowl with a softened stick of butter and one egg. (If you're building your cell walls with pre-made sugar cookie dough, you'll need to knead the dough with your hands until it is soft enough to dye green). Once the dough is fully blended and soft, add a few drops of green food coloring.
When the green food coloring is spread evenly throughout your dough, place the dough onto a floured cutting board. Roll or press the dough into a thin sheet. From this sheet, cut four rectangular strips that are approximately the length and height of the square baking pan you used to bake your cake.
Lastly, transfer those four rectangular strips of green dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake for approximately seven minutes or until the edges of your cookies begin to brown. The cookie strips are thin and WILL burn if you don't watch them!
Step 5: Add Your Organelles
Organelles are the "mini organs" found inside every plant cell. Each organelle has a different function and physical appearance, and together they work to keep the cell alive. Here's a breakdown of the specific organelles found in plant cells and the edible materials I used to represent them:
Plant Cell Organelles:
- Cell Wall - green sugar cookie strips
- Cell Membrane - dark green frosting
- Cytoplasm - lime green frosting
- Nucleus - pink-frosted cupcake (the purple Mike & Ike adds authenticity by representing the nucleolus)
- Golgi Apparatus - pink sugar-coated candy belts
- Endoplasmic Reticulum - green sugar-coated candy belts attached to the nucleus
- Ribosomes - circular sprinkles
- Mitochondria - yellow candy fruit slices
- Central Vacuole - blue and purple Mike & Ikes
- Chloroplasts - green Dots